The Henry Semester in Washington, D.C.

Basic information

  • Location: Washington, D.C. | Map
  • Dates: Spring Semester 2025
  • Class requirement: Sophomore
  • GPA requirement: 2.50+
  • Cost: Within $1000 of Calvin tuition plus full room and board. (estimate)

In Washington, D.C. you'll gain a real-world perspective on the ideas you've learned in the classroom at Calvin. Whatever your major, you can work with Career Development to find a place to gain valuable experience in your field of study.

You'll do this all with the nation's capital as the backdrop. You might work at CNN, the Canadian Embassy, the Department of Transportation, Amnesty International or even on Capitol Hill—the possibilities are endless. When you're not working or studying, spend time in the numerous museums of the Smithsonian Institute (all free of charge!) or find the exact spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. Just make sure to bring your walking shoes—you'll be glad you did.

The Henry Semester in Washington D.C. is in hiatus for the 2023-24 school year but is expected to return for 2024-25.

How to apply

If you're interested in participating in this off-campus program, click the button below for a checklist that will walk you through the application process.

Apply to join
this program

Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C. lies on the Potomac River and is bordered by Maryland to the northeast, northwest and southeast and Virginia to the southwest. Standing on centuries of national history, you will find yourself surrounded by monuments, performance halls, museums and of course the operational center of America's government.

Things to do

There are too many important sites in Washington, D.C. to list, but make sure to take advantage of the free admission at most D.C. museums. Washington is also only an hour on public transit to Baltimore, Maryland.

Metrorail and Metrobus provide excellent transportation within Washington, D.C. and the surrounding metro area. Check out their routes to find out how you'll get from your housing location to your internship.

Given how much you'll have to walk, students say don't be afraid to wear sneakers or walking shoes with your internship attire on your way to work—everyone in D.C. does it.

Founded on July 16, 1790 by provision of the Residence Act, Washington D.C. was made to be the permanent capital of the United States. George Washington chose the site for the city that measured 100 square miles (today it measures only 68 square miles). The first phase of work began on the capitol in 1793 and was completed in 1826. Now a major metropolitan area, the city is the home to many of the nation's governing bodies including Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the State Department, the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Approx. 658,900
Washington is in the humid subtropical climate zone and exhibits four distinct seasons. Spring and fall are warm, while winter is chilly with annual snowfall averaging 15.5 inches (39 cm). Winter temperatures average around 38 °F (3.3 °C) from mid-December to mid-February. Summers are hot and humid with a July daily average of 79.8 °F (26.6 °C) and average daily relative humidity around 66%.

Program Profile: Washington, D.C.

In most cases students adapt well to their circumstances, but it is helpful to know what to expect as you prepare for a specific experience. If you have specific questions about a program, we would encourage you to speak directly to your off-campus instructor or director or, feel free to stop by the OCP Office at any time.

Physical expectations: Moderate
Language Importance: Low
Cultural acclimation difficulty: Low
Level of Cultural Interaction: High
Safety & Security Considerations: Low

Health Considerations: Low
Mental Health Considerations: Moderate
Lodging: Dorms

Social Expectations: By their nature, semesters and interims off-campus are inherently social experiences. Heavy emphasis is usually put on building a strong sense of community within the group, which requires openness, sociability, and a collaborative spirit from everyone involved. Acknowledging that having a diversity of personalities makes a group stronger, it is expected that all participants willfully agree to be an active part of the social community of their interim or semester program.


Physical Expectations


These experiences require no more physical exertion than being on Calvin’s Campus. You don’t have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to. No physical preparation is required to make the most of this experience.


Moderate physical activity is expected and an average level of fitness is required. You will be doing a great deal more walking then on campus, often over uneven surfaces and rough roads. Some physical preparation is recommended before departure to make the most of this experience.


Be prepared for some serious physical activity requiring an above average level of fitness. This will include a high level of walking over all kinds of terrain as well as other physical demands in all kinds of extreme temperatures. The fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy this experience as many activities will be challenging.


Language Importance


English is the predominant language in course location.


Knowing another language is helpful to fulfill the goals of the course but English is also prevalent in course location.

Knowing another language is important to fulfill the goals of the course.


Cultural Acclimation Difficulty


Western conveniences are prevalent. Host culture is very similar to traditions and culture of West Michigan.


Few western conveniences, the need for students to blend in with the surrounding culture is important. Host culture shares similarities and differences with the culture of West Michigan.

No western conveniences, the need for students to acclimatize to local culture is readily apparent. Host culture is vastly different than West Michigan.


Level of Cultural Interaction


Interaction with local culture is limited and very formal (e.g. through organized tours).


Intentional opportunities to interact with local peoples and culture.


Intensive immersion in local culture – host families, service-learning, etc.


Safety & Security Considerations

Although no one can guarantee your safety or eliminate all risks from a study-abroad experience, Calvin College is committed to doing its utmost to provide secure environments in which you can live and learn. Our goal is to minimize risks and keep you aware of special situations as you make decisions about studying off-campus.


Safety concerns are similar to living on campus. Incidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.


There are no specific safety concerns of the U.S. State Department for the areas where you will be studying. However, additional care must be taken to assure a safe and secure experience. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.


There are safety concerns you should be aware of as you commit to this trip. The U.S. State Department has issued a Travel alert or Warning for the area where you will be studying. You will need to partner with Calvin in addressing safety concerns and follow all safety guidelines for the experience.


Health Considerations

Remember, Calvin follows the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for all Calvin sponsored off-campus experiences.


Health concerns are similar to living on campus. Illnesses and accidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. Health Care resources (clinics, medical personnel, etc.) are numerous and you would have easy access to medical care if needed. Some vaccinations will be required, but overall precautions are minimal.


In general, health concerns are slightly higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced and appropriate health care is available but can be harder to access than on campus. Several vaccinations may be required and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.


Health concerns are higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced at some point. Plans to assure adequate health care are in place but health care facilities could be hard to access during the experience. There may be many vaccinations required for the experience and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.


Mental Health Considerations

Remember, the Broene Counseling Center cannot provide on-line or phone consultations with students.


Mental health resources are similar to living on the Calvin campus. Mental Health resources (clinics, counselors, etc.) are available and you would have access to these resources, if needed. It could be challenging to find the right resources on short notice and for a short period of time.


Mental health resources are present in various locations during the experience but maybe difficult to access for a variety of reasons.




Group will be camping (living outdoors) at times during the trip.

Host Families

Students will be staying with host families for parts or all of the experience.


Staying in College dorms, similar to Calvin. Roommates will be other Calvin students or other international students depending on your preference.


Dormitory style lodging, shared bathrooms.


Individual rooms (with roommates) and private baths.



Cost of off-campus experiences vary as a result of a number of factors, including the number of students enrolled in the program. Amidst all these factors, the following categories could be helpful, but students are encouraged to check with instructors and directors on specific cost information.


$ Within $500 of tuition, room & board on campus
$$ Between $501 and $2,000 of tuition, room and board on campus
$$$ More than $2,000 over tuition, room and board on campus


$ Less than $2,500
$$ $2,501 to $3,800
$$$ >$3,801


Students choose between four available program tracks which help them prepare for the semester during the preceding fall, assist them with identifying possible internship sites, and provide related mentoring and networking relationships during the spring semester (as part of STDC 342/SOWK 380 classes):

General Internship Program with four tracks: Politics & Policy, Pre-Law, Strategic Communication, or Social Work.

STDC 344: Internship in Washington, DC
STDC 343: Integrating Faith and Public Life: People, Policy, Principles
STDC 342: Special Topics in Public Life: Bureaucracy and Civil Service

Social Work Field Work

SOWK 380: Social Work Field Assignment in Washington, DC
STDC 343: Integrating Faith and Public Life


You will live in apartment style housing in the Capitol Hill area, with easy access to nearby public transportation.


You must have achieved a minimum 2.5 grade point average to participate in the Washington, D.C. semester program. Please note that you do not need to a political science major to participate in the program.


Within $1000 of Calvin tuition plus full room and board. (estimate)

The final program cost is expected to be within $1000 of Calvin tuition and room and board on campus. More specific cost information will be sent with your acceptance letter. The final program cost is based on many factors and is not known exactly until the number of students in the group has been identified. The financial information page covers the details that go into the cost of the program and rough estimates for each. The cost for the Washington D.C. semester will include:

  • Tuition
  • Room and board
  • Program-related cultural events

Additional expenses not included in the program cost: travel to and from Washington, D.C., books, independent travel and spending money.

Scholarships: Apply for scholarships to study in D.C. through the Financial Aid Office. Scholarships include: 

  • Paul B. Henry Semester in Washington, D.C. Scholarship


This year's application deadline has passed. Check back next year to apply.

Questions / contact

Micah Watson

Micah Watson

Director, PPE Program;
Executive Director, Henry Institute, Paul Henry Chair in Christianity and Politics
Full profile

Joel Westra

Joel Westra

Department Chair
Director, Pre-Law Program
Full profile

Kylie Boss

Kylie Boss

Administrative Assistant; Program Coordinator, Henry Institute
Full profile


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